Jarno Trulli, Toyota, Valencia, 2009

Toyota quits F1 after eight winless years

2009 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Toyota finished sixth and seventh in their final Grand Prix at Abu Dhabi
Toyota finished sixth and seventh in their final Grand Prix at Abu Dhabi

F1 has lost its third team in less than 12 months as Toyota has confirmed it will not compete in 2010.

It brings to an end the company’s eight-year involvement in Formula 1 during which time it is believed to have spent more money than any other team on the grid.

The team’s F1 future had been widely doubted since Honda withdrew at the end of 2008. Toyota originally entered F1 in 2002 to compete with Honda, which had returned as an engine supplier two years earlier.

Jarno Trulli, Toyota, Suzuka, 2009Toyota joins a host of Japanese car manufacturers reducing their motor racing activity. Subaru, Mitsubishi and Suzuki have all down-sized their rally efforts, with the former quitting the World Rally Championship.

Tyre manufacturer Bridgestone has also decided to leave F1 when its exclusive deal expires at the end of 2010. And the Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway, which was brought up to F1 standards to hold the Japanese Grand Prix in 2007 and 2008, will not be holding any more Grands Prix.

There were rumours earlier this year the team would only remain in F1 if it won a race. That it failed to do, despite locking out the front row of the grid at Bahrain. The failure to seize on that opportunity, and the demotion of both of its cars to the back of the grid at Melbourne – from where they rose to finish third and fourth – may have cost it its F1 future.

It ended 2009 fifth in the championship with 59.5 points. That was its second-best ever year in F1 – its highest placing was fourth with 88 points, in 2005.

Despite its lack of success there were some grounds for optimism the team would continue. Toyota boss John Howett was the vice-president of the Formula 1 teams’ association. He played a major role in the negotiations with the FIA over how F1 costs could be reduced and the team signed the Concorde Agreement committing it to remain in F1 until 2012.

But this desire to bring costs down and commit to the future of the sport has not spared the team. Last month Toyota’s new CEO Akio Toyoda said the company was “grasping for salvation” – given that grim assessment, it’s hrdly surprising its F1 team has been clsoed down.

As well as the hundreds of staff at its Cologne headquarters, spare a thought for Kamui Kobayashi. Just three days ago his impressive performance at Abu Dhabi was praised by the team and he was expected to earn a place in Toyota’s 2010 line-up.

That will not happen, though it remains to be seen if anyone might step in to take the team’s place in F1. If not, it presents an opportunity for Qadbak, who bought the remains of BMW’s F1 team, to get on the grid in 2010.

But the bad news may not be over just yet – Renault are holding a board meeting today to decide on the future of its team. Having been the focus of a major scandal this year, and with no title sponsor for 2010, could it become the fourth F1 team to quit?

Images ?? Toyota

Posted on Categories 2009 F1 season, Toyota

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185 comments on “Toyota quits F1 after eight winless years”

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  1. Noooooooo!!!! Kobayashi!!!!!!!! :'(

  2. Kobayashi could yet get a drive in one of the new teams of course.

    I doubt Sauber will take him – they already have Heidfeld and Klien on their books.

  3. Sad for the workers who will lose their jobs.

    I won’t really miss Toyota, though I hope Kobayashi gets a drive. But I’m not jumping on the anti-manufacturer bandwagon. Frank Williams has shown that privateers can be just as intractable and an obstruction to progress, and the fate of the Jordan team is as good a reminder as any that they too can just up and leave. The fact that there are apparently doubts over “two” of the new teams (most articles never go into detail, though it’s probably Campos and Manor) is further evidence against the idea of bad manufacturers/good independents.

    The only real difference I can see is that the independents aren’t as ready to leave because of bad results, but ultimately the black/white designation of the situation by Mosley and others is over-simplistic.

    1. Jordan didn’t up and leave for the fun of. They left because of the spiralling costs caused by the manufacturers. He simply sold up before he went bust

    2. Some of them race first for the racing. If they can get enough sponsorship to support the program, that is good. If they are successful then they get more sponsorship and life is good/great. The mfg’s and the BOD’s are what is putting the pressure on for the results. Timelines cannot be set in stone for racing like they can for mfg, there are to many unknowns every season.
      What team other than Ferrari, has been based outside of England and been successful in F1? I cannot remember any team, and by successful, I mean has won multiple races and challenged for either the contructor or driver championship.
      I say good ridance to all of the mfg’s that arent in the sport to advance their own technology and develope parts that will eventually make it into their road cars.
      Toyota, BMW, Honda, and now possibly Renault gone. Maybe we will get back to the great times of F1, but only if we are rid of some of the non racing personalities that are involved in the promotion and running of the sport.

      1. What team other than Ferrari, has been based outside of England and been successful in F1? I cannot remember any team, and by successful, I mean has won multiple races and challenged for either the contructor or driver championship.

        Your point is a sound one, although there have been a few examples. French based teams have had some success – Renault challenged for titles in the early 1980s and Ligier won races in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Jackie Stewart’s first title came in a Tyrrell-run French Matra chassis. Dan Guerney took single victories for All American Racers and Porsche but they don’t meet your criteria. The old Alfa Romeo factory team didn’t have any notable success beyond the 1950s.

      2. 1950 Farina won the first WDC in an Alfa Romeo
        1951 Fangio won the WDC in an Alfa Romeo.
        1954 Fangio won the WDC in a Maserati/Mercedes-Benz, (he swapped teams half way through the season)
        1955 Fangio won the WDC in a Mercedes-Benz

        Other than that you’re probably right, although there have been non-UK based teams they haven’t achieved much.

        1. You both get my point. I mean in modern times1960-2009. I dont give alot of hope to USF1 now that they are going to stage up in Spain.(Nothing against Spain) It is that the Mecca of F1 racing is in England and I dont see that changing. If someone buys the Toyota team the first thing I would do is move it to England as well as Sauber.

  4. Sensible for Toyota, bad for F1..
    Even more so since the first time i can remember they have a very fresh driver who looked able to take the car beyond its limits.

    Surely Kobasmashi will get a drive next year!

  5. Like others here I feel sorry for Kobayashi, but as for the team I am less sympathetic. Toyota spent billions in F1 during the boom years, and never looked like a winning team then. All this business about winning a race to stay for 2010 just shows how pathetic these people are.
    In the long run, when this economy turns around, these teams that walked away will seriously regret their decision as Formula One goes from strength to strength. I really think now that Renault will be gone within the week too, which would be disastrous for Robert Kubica.
    The reality, sadly for F1, is three engine suppliers for all the teams involved, which would still be two more than the IRL have.

  6. I heard, they will be Asian F1 championship. No surprise the withdrawn of Bridgestone, Honda, Subaru and other Asian team motor sports company. Wait and see

  7. Jhonnie siggie
    4th November 2009, 12:42

    It might be cheaper for toyota to sell the team rather than simply leave so this does not necessarily mean a place for saber

    1. Problem is, who would buy it?

      From what I’ve read, part of Toyota’s problem in becoming a winning team has been in getting the staff it needs to relocate to Cologne.

      That said, I would rather see someone buy up Toyota F1 than have the (reportedly questionable) Quadbak involved in F1.

      Question: Is Peter Suber still a shareholder in BMW Sauber now Quadbak have bought it up? Could he take the Toyota operation off their hands..??

  8. Toyota never added much sparkle to the scene but the loss of Bridgestone is very serious not only in itself but also for the air of uncertainty which may persuade others to give up. Grave times ahead

  9. I was just thinking that if the Renault board decide to pull the plug on the F1 team Kubica would have lost a drive twice in the same year because of a decision by the board of a major motor manufacturer… that would surely be a first! ;-)

    1. Glock would have almost done that, Toyota didn’t resign him but then they pulled out anyway and he is rumoured to be close to a deal with Renault.

  10. Kobayashi is going to have alot of calls from new F1 teams or even currently established F1 teams!
    He put on a good performance with Toyota, He deserves a drive next year! Same for glock.

  11. A big part of Toyota’s problem, assuming they do try to sell the team, is their location in Cologne. I’m told that running a workforce in union-led Germany has it’s own challenges – as seen during the team’s enforced two-week break over the summer.

    I’d be surprised if Renault left right now. They were let off pretty lightly by the sport for ‘crash-gate’ and a part of that was in the hope they’d stay. It would be a bit of a kick in the sport’s nuts to leave at this stage and would damage their standing in world motorsport further (bearing in mind that they provide for GP2).

  12. I’m not surprised to hear about this, because it does seem a reasonable decision under the circumstances.

    The potential of selling the team could be a challenge, but theoretically, for an investor from the Germany, Beligum, Netherlands kind of area, having a team stationed in Cologne could be something worth thinking about.

    There might still be a chance for the team to take up some other racing project, though, for example a Le Mans comeback that has been in the rumor mill just as long as the “might they quit Grand Prix racing” story.

    Otherwise, this might actually be a piece of positive news for the former Sauber team.

  13. I am absolutely gutted for Kobayashi!! after his 2 races he is definitely my new fave driver and was really excited about seeing how he did next year (actually the same i felt about Glock after 2008 season!) I feel sure he’ll get a drive as seems to be a great driver with a bit of ‘spirit’ – something that has been seriousley lacking in a fair number of drivers this season. I would LOVE McLaren to snap him up instead of Kimi!

  14. Prisoner Monkeys
    4th November 2009, 14:02

    Great article, Keith. The perfect lead-in for the guest article I just submitted.

    However, I disagree with the notion Renault will withdraw entirely. Red Bull are looking to use their engines for 2010, and I do believe they have a contrat. If Renault back out, I think they’ll stay on as an engine supplier.

    1. Guest article? Brilliant can’t wait to read it!

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        5th November 2009, 2:34

        Hopefully you’ll be able to soon.

  15. Just when i thought Kobayashi was going to surprise us next year :( Really hope he gets the drive.
    The idea of a racing driver that did that well and if can’t get a drive goes help is father at his restaurant takes “privateer” to a whole new level..

  16. Looks like We now understand what Max Mosley was upto….

    Smart of Kimi not to negotiate with Toyota. :)

  17. Oh please,Stop this Koba BS,do you know how many test laps he’s put on that Toyota,compare to the kid in the Rossi or the guy in that Renault.

    1. How many test laps did he put in? When?

    2. koba drove better than buemi has done and buemi got a fair bit of driving the 2008 car before the season.

      1. Kobayashi is driving a car that took 2 second places in recent races. Buemi isn’t.

    3. Indeed.

      Also, Nakajima was 10th in his first race (substituting for Wurz) and 6th in the next one. Does that remind anyone of another Japanese driver?

      Now people can’t wait to trash Nakajima and Kobyashi is the new hero.

      The old adagio: “you are as good as your last race” is running wild again.

      1. What difference does their nationality make? I’ve no clue why people keep bringing up Nakajima in comparison. Those race positions are called coincidences – no rational connection. If you a see one mediocre British driver, will keep bringing him up when the next British rookie comes on the scene?

        I think that all you Kobayashi bashers are just frustrated because a rookie showed Jenson up two races in a row.

  18. My favorite team out of f1, that’s too bad :(

  19. Lance Osborne
    4th November 2009, 16:12

    Why not consolidate and focus on supplying engines for a couple of years? You still stay involved in the sport, still get worldwide F1 exposure? Hasn’t anyone learned from MB’s example?

  20. So now we have our 3rd manufacture Pull out. Leaving Ferrari, Renault owing teams. Mercedes and Cosworth as engine suppliers. We may get to a point where everyone is a team and the manufactrues are just enfine suppliers (execpt for Ferrari).

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